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Laying date, incubation and egg breakage as determinants of bacterial load on bird eggshells: experimental evidence

AutorSoler, Juan José ; Ruiz-Rodríguez, Magdalena ; Martín-Vivaldi, Manuel; Peralta-Sánchez, Juan M. ; Ruiz-Castellano, Cristina ; Tomás, Gustavo
Palabras claveBrood parasitism
Climate change
Life history traits
Nest characteristics
Parental activity
Fecha de publicación26-abr-2015
CitaciónOecologia 179 (1) : 63-74 (2015)
ResumenExploring factors guiding interactions of bacterial communities with animals has become of primary importance for ecologists and evolutionary biologists during the last years because of their likely central role in the evolution of animal life history traits. We explored the association between laying date and eggshell bacterial load (mesophilic bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococci, and Enterococci) in natural and artificial magpie (Pica pica) nests containing fresh commercial quail (Coturnix coturnix) eggs. We manipulated hygiene conditions by spilling egg contents on magpie and artificial nests and explored experimental effects during the breeding season. Egg breakage is a common outcome of brood parasitism by great spotted cuckoos (Clamator glandarius) on the nests of magpie, one of its main hosts. We found that the treatment increased eggshell bacterial load in artificial nests, butnot in magpie nests with incubating females, which suggests that parental activity prevents the proliferation of bacteria on the eggshells in relation to egg breakage. Moreover, laying date was positively related to eggshell bacterial load in active magpie nests, but negatively in artificial nests. The results suggest that variation in parental characteristics of magpies rather than climatic variation during the breeding season explained the detected positive association. Because the eggshell bacterial load is a proxy of hatching success, the detected positive association between eggshell bacterial loads and laying date in natural, but not in artificial nests, suggests that the generalized negative association between laying date and avian breeding success can be, at least partially, explained by differential bacterial effects.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-015-3322-6
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